The coming new year 2016 promises to be a very exciting year for Digital Marketing.
Here is a 15-point checklist for your 2016 Digital Marketing strategy. If you already have your strategy ready, you can use this checklist to ensure that you have not missed any essential element. If you have not yet prepared it, I have given a ‘Starting point‘ tip under each section to help you get started.
In 2015, we saw many developments and disruptive technologies emerge in the Social Media and Digital Marketing space:
- Facebook introduced Live video, Notify app, special features for non profits and new plugins for websites.
- Twitter introduced Polls in October 2015 and they launched the very successful Periscope in March 2015.
- LinkedIn redesigned the mobile app in December 2015 and they had earlier redesigned their timeline.
- Apple launched its much awaited product, Apple Watch & a new Apple TV, with TV OS.
- Blab became a phenomenon in live-streaming and opened new avenues for marketers to communicate with their audience.
- Google Adwords introduced Google compare, Interactive ads and many new features.
If all this buzz & growth in the online marketing space is anything to go by, 2016 promises to be a very exciting year.
Digital Marketing Strategy for 2016: a 15-point checklist
1. Do you have a ‘Digital Vision’ document?
Create a digital marketing reference document that will serve as a blue print or road map for the entire year. It could be a spreadsheet or a document that you can go back to, at any time. You could use Google Docs – it is free, cloud-based, mobile-enabled and collaborative. You could also use a mind map if you are a visual person. The type of document that you use does not matter as long as you have one that you are comfortable working in.
Starting Point: If you have not prepared a digital vision document yet, here is a list of items for the document to help you get started:
- Business objectives
- Marketing goals
- Target market definition/Personas
- Competition information
- Channels – Social media, advertising, email etc.
- Team details with responsibilities
- Partnership/collaboration plan
- Online assets – website, mobile apps, etc.
- Campaign details
- UTM parameters for campaigns
- Editorial and Social Media Calendar
- Content Strategy
- Keyword analysis details
- Research information
2. Do you have clarity on who your audience is?
Define your target market. Get to the details, like – what they do, how they behave, what they think, how they spend, demographics, psychographics etc.
Starting Point: The best way to do this is by creating personas. Here is a useful post by Buffer with step-by-step instructions on how to create marketing personas. If you are in the B2B sector, you should check out this survey learnings, published by Wayne Cerullo of B2p partners, about the use of personas to build business.
3. Do you know which channels to focus on?
Digital marketing has many elements. Each item in your digital marketing plan will have multiple options for you to choose from. There are more than 200 social media channels. There are multiple ways to optimise your website for search engines. There are different advertising channels like Facebook, Instagram, Google, etc where you can spend your Digital Marketing dollar.
With all these options, it is easy to lose focus and get lost. List down the channels that you think is relevant for your business (based on your audience) and focus on them.
Starting Point: To get started, here is a blog post on how to choose the right social media channel.
4. Do you have a strong online presence?
How strong is your existing online presence – web, mobile and social? Is your website optimized for search, usability & lead generation? Do you have a CRM built into your website? Do you have landing pages for all your marketing campaigns? What about your mobile presence (mobile site, mobile experience of your website users, mobile apps, etc.)? How about your social media presence? Are you visible and present in all the social media channels where your prospects are spending time? Conduct an audit and take stock of your online presence before you get into 2016.
Starting point: To get started, review this list of all the marketing elements that your website should have in order to be effective in 2016.
5. Have you integrated your marketing efforts?
In 2016, plan to integrate your online and offline marketing efforts. Without integration, there is a possibility of your marketing efforts/resources moving in various directions with unconnected goals, reducing overall impact. For example, it is not a good idea to have your PR team working on a campaign on recruitment, while your social media team tried to focus on amplifying your CSR message.
Starting point: Organize a meeting of your entire marketing team (internal and external) and take stock of all the planned marketing campaigns for 2016. Track the alignment of your online & offline campaign goals and make sure that they complement each other.
6. Do you have the right tools?
Using the right tools can help you save time and maximise your team’s productivity. There are tools for every need of a digital marketer including software, devices and mobile apps. And there are ebooks, online courses and podcasts that you can use to learn and equip yourself to accomplish your marketing objectives. It takes a bit of time to experiment and select the right ones that suit you, but the time spent on this selection can prove useful in the long run.
Starting point: To get started here is a blog post on 50 useful Mobile Apps for Marketing.
7. Have you defined your Digital Marketing budget?
Allocating your marketing budget gives you the ability to start planning your 2016 ad-campaigns early, with various search engines and social media channels. Online advertising is evolving and becoming more effective with the ability to pinpoint and target the right audience. The figure below shows projections of $32.91 Bn ad-revenues for 2016. This figure also shows how ad-revenues have consistently grown during 2014 & 2015 with social media networks adding value to businesses by coming up with innovative campaign options, showing increase in ROI (return-on-investment).
Starting point: But how much of you total budget do you set apart for digital marketing? To help you get started, here is a blog post (with research findings) on how to allocate a Digital Marketing budget.
8. Do you have a content marketing plan?
What type of content are you planning to produce in 2016? Are you comfortable with written content or are you more comfortable with videos? Depending on the comfort level and capability of your team, you can choose the type of content that you will use to market and amplify your message. Usually a mix of various types of content works best with one or two formats dominating your campaigns.
Starting point: Editorial calendar – Once you choose the type of content, based on your campaigns, prepare an editorial calendar. This will help you firm up your content marketing plan. You could start with laying out broad goals and objectives for each month. Then, come up with a more detailed plan for the first quarter (Jan, Feb and March 2016). As you go along, depending on the progress and data from your analytical tools, you can make changes to the plans.
(Click on image to enlarge)
9. Do you have a mobile marketing plan?
Mobile usage by consumers dominated 2015 and is expected to dominate 2016 too. Trends and studies show that consumers will use mobile as the main means of consuming content in 2016, so as a business every single content that you create needs to be mobile-optimised. It is not just about creating mobile responsive websites any more, focus on creating a mobile-optimised experience in every part of your online business – online assets, content and campaigns.
Starting point: To help you get started with your plans for Mobile Marketing, here is a blog post on Top 5 Mobile Marketing trends.
10. Do you have a video marketing plan?
Research shows that video converts better than any other medium, video makes people stay longer on your website and video will dominate as the preferred form of content in 2016. So plan to include video in your 2016 marketing campaigns.
Starting point: To help you get started, here is a beginners guide on creating Marketing videos.
11. Do you have a local marketing plan?
Local marketing is an activity that helps you be more visible to your customer when they look for your products or services in a specific location. Growth and innovation in wearable technology, GPS-enabled smart phones and IOT (Internet of Things) have made local marketing important for any business. if you are in a business that has store fronts or location-based services, working on local marketing in 2016 can help you grow.
Starting point: Do a google search of your business on mobile. What do you see? Do you see your business details? Openings hours etc? If you don’t, start your Local Marketing effort by registering your business in Google My Business. It is free. In addition to that, you can also register your business details in relevant online directories that are available for your industry. Ask your digital agency or your marketing manager about Local Marketing plans for 2016.
12. Do you have a measurement plan?
Create a measurement plan based on the channels you have selected in point 3. Almost all social media channels have their own dedicated analytics software and they give an in-depth analysis of what works and what does not. But I recommend that you have a aggregation tool like Google Analytics, which can collect all required information in one place if configured properly. This not only saves time when you are trying to analyse the impact of your campaigns, but also helps you compare channels and have a integrated overview. For example, Facebook might give you details of how each post performed on their channel, but in Google analytics you can see how these posts impacted your call-to-action initiatives, lead magnets and landing pages.
Starting point: To help you get started here is a free ebook on measuring your social media metrics.
13. Are you SEO-ready?
Optimizing your online presence for search engines makes you visible to your customers, when they search for your products or services online. SEO has evolved. Going into 2016, content-driven SEO is what any business should be focussing on. According to Jeff Bullas, the 3 big SEO trends that will dominate 2016 are:
- Mobile searches will surpass desktop in 2016 – which makes Mobile SEO and Location-based optimization important.
- Voice search will become more prevalent among users and will influence SEO in 2016.
- Providing structured data to Google will help you rank better in 2016.
Starting point: To help you get started in SEO, here is a beginner’s guide for SEO.
14. Have you established your key partnerships and collaboration plans?
What is your plan for collaboration and partnership in 2016? You can partner with influencers in your industry, thought leaders, companies offering complimentary services to your audience, vendors and even clients. Some of the collaborative activities that you could plan for 2016 are:
- Blab Sessions
- Podcast interviews
- Co-branded shared advertising campaigns
- Cross promotions in social media channels
- Guest posts in blogs
- Banners in websites
- Offline events
Starting Point: If you do not have a partnership plan in place, you could start by creating a list of possible partners and send them an email asking them if they are open for collaborations in 2016. Based on their response, you could schedule the above mentioned activities in your calendar.
15. Do you have the right team?
To accomplish great things, you need the right team. Your 2016 Digital Marketing strategy’s impact will depend on how strong your team is. Digital marketing is a function that warrants a cohesive work between multiple teams with various skills. For example, a social media campaign for a product launch might require the following teams to work together:
- The business team (for strategy)
- Advertising team
- Content creation team
- Content editing team
- Media management team
- Research team
- Design team
- Video team
- IT programming team
- SEO team
…and the list goes on.
Starting point: There are couple of ways in which you can get access to a team with varied skill sets.
- Recruit and create your own in-house digital team with expertise in each of the above functions.
- Hire a digital agency that has a proven track record of working on marketing campaigns. This option will give you access to all the skill sets from a single partner. If you are considering this option, do get in touch with us. We will be glad to explore options of being your Digital Marketing partner in 2016!
All the best for the coming new year. Happy 2016!